Miami Dolphins hope Sunday’s game can offer ‘any type of relief’ to Irma victims

Dolphins defensive back Michael Thomas, shown during an appearance in Fort Pierce in 2016, hopes to organize a benefit for South Florida after doing the same for his hometown of Houston. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

OXNARD, Calif. — The Dolphins know that Sunday, there will be fans watching their game against the Los Angeles Chargers on whatever device that still has power.

Some will be listening on radio for the first time in ages.

And the unluckiest won’t be able to pay the slightest attention to the entertainment that is professional football because of Hurricane Irma.

And even though the players’ first concern has to be putting together a game plan for their season-opener, in the back of their minds is what’s happening back home.

“Oh, for sure,” defensive back Michael Thomas said. “If we can offer any type of relief, just to get somebody’s mind off what they just went through — what the whole state is going through by playing in the game, we would try to offer that.”

Thomas, in fact, is planning more than just a boost in spirits with a good performance on the field. He’s from Houston and helped organize a drive to aid victims of Hurricane Harvey. He said he has begun planning a benefit drive for his second home, South Florida.

Dolphins safety Nate Allen. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Safety Nate Allen is from Fort Myers, so it’s easy to imagine his tension as forecasters’ cone kept shifting closer and closer to his hometown. In the end, even though the hurricane swept through the southwest portion of the state, his property suffered virtually no damage.

“We had some panels on our screened patio by the pool knocked out and that was about it,” Allen said. “We got lucky. And we kept power the whole time, our neighborhood. We live in a gated community and we didn’t lose power at all. The lord was watching out for sure. He had His hand around us.”

He knows many were nowhere near as fortunate. It wasn’t that long ago that Katrina-stricken New Orleans rallied around the Saints, who eventually won a Super Bowl. This season, Houston received a lift from J.J. Watt’s multimillion campaign for donations. Now, South Florida’s NFL team is in that spotlight.

“It just puts everything in perspective,” Allen said. “We’re blessed to play a game for a living, yeah. Whatever joy we can bring to somebody who’s going through some stuff right now with the hurricane, it’ll be big for us.”

Safety Walt Aikens half-jokingly said the team hopes to carry fans Sunday — but this Sunday won’t be any different from others.

“That’s every Sunday!” Aikens said. “We play for South Florida every Sunday. We got that ‘Miami’ going across the jersey, man, for sure.”

Left tackle Laremy Tunsil is from Lake City in upstate Florida, “so I’m used to these hurricanes,” he said. “It’s nothing new to me.”

Still, when Tunsil turned his attention to fans back home, he said, “Whatever we can do by giving back, I’ll do it. We’ll do it.”

When Thomas considers what is happening in Houston and South Florida, he sees a lot of destruction in a little amount of time.

“Obviously, we feel blessed to be able to play a game,” he said. “And this is some real-life stuff that people are going through where it’s life-altering. Some people I grew up with in Houston who are very dear to me are starting over. Lost everything — house, car, no clothes, nothing.”

Reader Comments 0

0 comments